Analog Devices CEO Jerry Fishman dies

Analog Devices CEO Jerry Fishman dies

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Jerry Fishman, longtime CEO of chip vendor Analog Devices Inc. died Thursday (March 28) after an apparent heart attack. He was 67 years old.
By eeNews Europe

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Fishman, who became president and chief operating officer of ADI in 1991, had been the longest tenured executive manager of any semiconductor company. He was promoted to CEO in 1996 when Ray Stata, now ADI’s chairman, stepped down.

"This is a terrible loss for me personally and for all of us here at ADI," said Ray Stata, chairman of ADI, board of directors, in a statement. "Jerry dedicated his entire career to building ADI into a great company—one of which we all are enormously proud."

With Fishman at the helm, ADI had a remarkable record of consistent profitability. Walden Rhines, a veteran of the semiconductor industry and longtime CEO of EDA vendor Mentor Graphics Corp., said he couldn’t think of a year when ADI lost money. "ADI has one of the longest consistent records of profitability in the semiconductor industry," Rhines said.

Rhines, who met with Fishman frequently, said Fishman leaves a strong legacy in the chip industry. "I think [Fishman] provided the operational discipline that complimented Ray Stata’s strategic insight to create a very successful consistently growing organization."

Jim Feldhan, president of market research firm Semico Inc., said Fishman was a nose to the grindstone leader who preferred managing ADI to seeking a wider, more flamboyant industry role with speaking engagements and appearances. "Clearly, he did a fabulous job of running ADI," Feldhan said. "He’s been there so long you have to attribute that to his direction."

In accordance with the ADI’s bylaws, Vincent Roche, the company’s president, was appointed CEO on an interim basis.

"I think Analog Devices faces a major challenge in filling Jerry’s shoes since he had guided the company through a number of changes and shifts in the business, especially DSP and signal processing, as well as linear ICs," said Rob Lineback, a senior research analyst at IC Insights Inc.

Lineback said ADI has most recently been focused on applying more R&D to boost its presence in consumer markets and expand in communication infrastructure, such as wireline solutions for control applications and advanced radio architectures for 4G.  The company refocused itself in 2007, selling its handset IC business to Taiwan’s Mediatek, Lineback noted. Since then, ADI has targeted embedded designs using analog, mixed-signal, and advanced linear in automotive, communication infrastructure, industrial systems and selective consumer applications, Lineback said. 

"The problem is that many of Analog Devices’ competitors—TI, ST, and others—are doing the same thing today," Lineback said.  "With so many irons in the fire, to grow ADI’s business in a crowded marketplace, replacing the company’s long-time CEO will be a challenge."

Fishman joined ADI in 1971 in product marketing. He rose quickly through the ranks of the company, holding a series of management positions in marketing, operations, and strategic planning. He was named general manager of ADI’s semiconductor division in 1979. He became a vice president in 1980 and was named group vice president in 1982 and executive vice president in 1988.

"They say that the best athletes rarely make good coaches, but that was not the case with Jerry Fishman," said Susie Inouye, an analysts with Databeans Inc. "He had a major talent of being able to rally the troops and provide consistency in communications with the employees, which can be difficult especially with much of the staff off site.  I think Fishman will leave a legacy of commitment to the business as well as the employees."

Stata said Fishman’s commitment to ADI occupied a central part of his life described Fishman’s passion for ADI’s success as infectious. "Jerry not only developed enormous respect both inside and outside the company as one of our industry’s greatest leaders, but also for those like me who knew him well, he engendered a sense of affection and loyalty through his candor, openness, and integrity and through his unique sense of humor," Stata said.

Stata said that while Fishman was passionate about with work and about ADI, "his greatest pride was his family and our thoughts are with them at this time. We shall miss Jerry deeply."

Fishman was named semiconductor industry CEO of the year in 2004. In addition to his work at ADI, Fishman also sat on the boards of directors of several other semiconductor companies, including FPGA vendor Xilinx Inc.

Fishman, born in 1945, grew up in Flushing, N.Y.  He earned a BSEE degree from the City College of New York, and an MSEE degree from Northeastern University. Fishman also earned an MBA degree from Boston University and a Juris Doctor degree from Suffolk Law School.

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